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Avoid These Nursing School Application Mistakes

Pre-Nursing Article   (1,843 Views 1 Replies 1,004 Words)

J.Adderton has 26 years experience as a BSN, MSN .

7 Followers; 91 Articles; 30,648 Profile Views; 339 Posts

How To Strengthen Your Nursing School Application

Nursing programs are turning away high numbers of qualified applicants, despite a critical nursing shortage.  As a result, students face a really competitive process for earning a seat in most nursing programs. This article provides student “do's” and “what not to do” during the application process to make the best first impression.

Avoid These Nursing School Application Mistakes

Students pursuing a nursing degree are passionate about making a difference in the lives of others. There are also other appealing “pros” drawing an increasing number of applicants to nursing programs.  Due to the ongoing nursing shortage, students have access to scholarships and other financial resources to help pay for nursing school. In addition, new nurses are able to enter the workforce quickly and enjoy job security.  Today, the ever-growing need for nurses is met with high student interest. However, acceptance into nursing school is a really competitive process and it starts with the application process.

Why is it So Competitive?

According to the AACN’s report on 2018-2019 Enrollment and Graduation in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, 75,029 qualified applicants were turned away from undergraduate and graduate programs in 2018. The reason for limiting the number of students entering nursing programs include insufficient resources in the number of faculty, available clinical sites, classroom space and preceptors.  Students with great grades and experience in healthcare are being denied entry into programs.  Fortunately, there are “do’s and don’ts” you can follow to strengthen your applicant and earn your seat in nursing school

Before the Application Process

Requirements for nursing school entry varies by school and programs, however, the following criteria is typical:

  • Acceptable high school GPA or equivalent GED score OR
    • Good grades from completed post-secondary education
  • CNA and LPN programs may not have a minimum GPA
  • Many associate’s programs require a minimum 2.5
  • Bachelor’s and graduate degrees often require 3.0 or higher

Your GPA may need to be greater with advanced degrees and more prestigious programs.

Other tips include:

  • Be sure to verify what prerequisites are required and make sure you have those completed before you apply.
  • Research multiple schools and find programs that are the right fit for you.  Consider these factors:
    • Your favored learning environment
    • Is the commute reasonable
    • Is tuition affordable or financial aid available
    • How are clinical hours scheduled (does the student or faculty arrange?)
  • Apply to multiple schools to increase your chances of acceptance and provide options if multiple applications accepted.
  • Complete volunteer hours and/or get experience in a healthcare related job.

Nursing Programs Have “Hard Stop” Applicant Deadlines

Be sure to start your application early and don’t miss the deadline. Now, you may be thinking, “surely they will send reminders to interested students” or “I just can’t believe my application would be denied for a missing document”.  But, this is a harsh reality of nursing programs and it is easy to understand why. As a nursing student, you will be responsible for details that affect human life and safety. A complete and timely application is your first opportunity to demonstrate you are ready for these responsibilities.  Be sure to have at least 2 other people to proofread your application for grammatical errors and to check for completion before you submit.

Avoid These Common Application Mistakes

Not preparing for the entrance exam

Many nursing programs require applicants to take and pass a standardized entrance exam, such as the Test for Essential Academic Skills (TEAS).  These tests will assess your math, science and reading abilities. Students make mistakes in preparing for this important exam when they don’t:

  • Research what test (if any) specific to your program is required
  • Give themselves enough time to study and further develop weaker academic areas.
  • Invest  in a test specific booklet or practice tests to help you prepare
  • Get enough rest and eating a good breakfast before the exam

Not preparing for the application interview

First Impressions Matter

Most schools have an interview process for applicants and to make a good first impression, you need to nail it.  To make make your best impression, do this:

  • Dress professionally and appropriately (i.e. business casual wear).  
  • Arrive on time
  • Extend a solid handshake (good posture and direct eye contact)
  • Leave non-essential personal items behind, remembering less is good

Actual In-Person Interview

The interview is the time to be yourself and let your personality shine through.  It is also an opportunity to let the interviewer know the skills you have and why you would make a great nurse.  Questions asked will focus on personal and professional goals, objectives and motivations for applying to the program.  For example:

  • Why do you want to be a nurse?
  • How much time are you able to devote to studying and clinical hours?
  • Describe a situation you felt challenged?
  • Can you discuss some hot nursing topics?

Check out this article for potential interview questions you can practice answering with a friend or family member.  Be sure to research the school and program and have a few thoughtful questions ready to show you’re serious about nursing school. And finally, take a deep breathe and be yourself.

If You Want to be a Nurse, Don’t Give Up

Remember, you can always reapply.  Take an honest look at your application for areas you could improve.  Do you need volunteer hours or does you GPA need to come up? It may take a few tries or a bit more time to strengthen weak academic areas, but a degree in nursing is worth it.

Do you have advice for a future nursing school applicant?  Any words of encouragement?


Additional Resources:

Avoid These Common Nursing School Application Mistakes

Common Mistakes on Nursing School Applications

J. Adderton MSN has over 20 years experience in clinical leadership, staff development, project management and nursing education.

7 Followers; 91 Articles; 30,648 Profile Views; 339 Posts

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NICU Guy has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in NICU.

1 Follower; 3,511 Posts; 32,116 Profile Views

"Nursing programs are turning away high numbers of qualified applicants, despite a critical nursing shortage. "

It is my understanding that there is not a nursing shortage, but an experienced nursing shortage. 

5 hours ago, J.Adderton said:

75,029 qualified applicants were turned away from undergraduate and graduate programs in 2018.

This statistic is also misleading. It is a matter of how high the nursing schools set the admission criteria. If all nursing schools lower the  minimum GPA to 2.0, there will be far more "qualified"applicants turned down. If nursing schools'  admission criteria were more aligned with there acceptance statistics , there would less applicants wasting their time applying. If the lowest accepted GPA for the last four semesters was 3.15, then applicants less than 3.0 would not apply, instead the minimum is set for 2.5 causing many more applicants to apply that do not have a realistic chance of getting accepted.

Edited by NICU Guy

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